In the afternoon, we met Mr. & Mrs. Helmut Fennel, a member of Leica Historica, who gave us an excellent tour of the town. At the Wetzlar Dom (cathedral), Mr. Fennel explained that Ernst Leitz himself had donated the beautiful pipe organ there, under the strict stipulation that the church clergy hear confessions from both Catholics and Protestants. This resonated with me, and reminded me of the Leitz family’s perilous and compassionate task of spiriting out of the country many members of Wetzlar’s Jewish community during the Second World War; the kindness of the Leitz family made this journey feel that much more like a pilgrimage.
As we walked and talked, Mr. Fennel told me that Lars Netopil’s Classic Cameras shop was just around the corner from the Wetzlar Dom (a fact I had missed – it seems to have been the only corner we hadn’t already turned). I was thrilled at the prospect of meeting another Leicaphile, and especially one with a shop! After all, I thought, this is a vacation, and shopping is part of a vacation. Then I thought: Wait – is there shopping on pilgrimages? What if there’s no shopping on pilgrimages, and there’s a black paint button-rewind M2!
Then, as we sauntered around the corner we found the store shuttered.
I almost cried, right there in the street.
I took a picture.
Mr. Fennel told us this story: Ernst Leitz II was traveling when he bumped into a gentleman from his company with whom he was friendly. After a moment in conversation, the man said, “Ernst, perhaps you need some new clothes to travel in – I’m surprised to see the state of your jacket and cuffs. Your tie wants pressing, too.”
“What does it matter?” Leitz said, taking no offense, “There is no one to impress, no one knows me here.”
Some weeks later the man encountered Leitz walking nearby his home in Wetzlar, and he said, “Ernst, I do think you need to see my tailor; certainly a man of your stature can stand to have a new jacket and shirt, and perhaps a fine pair of trousers, too.”
Ernst Leitz replied, “What does it matter? There is no one to impress, everyone knows me here.”